It's remarkable how deep one can go on digging into this and come up with more and more modelling parameters to support Rich's contention that sub-312 flavas (in our case L21 and even DF13*) expanded like mold on an agar plate for some reason, in the not-too-distant past.
Treading as circumspectly as I can (this stuff can on occasion be like giving dynamite to children, people go bananas over it), it's worth recalling the tale of Cúchulainn and Éimhear. A crucial plot-point is that mac Nesa reputedly had jus primae noctis (coll cétingen
) over ALL his subjects.
Which must have put quite a bit of mileage on the old chariot invoices, getting round all that lot, as well as giving those lucky husbands a good sound reason to fight shy of primogeniture for heritable purposes, thus cunningly impoverishing the whole lot and increasing their dependence on lordly patronage and/or military employment. And yet again gave those single eldest sons (if that's how they turned out) a reason to fight for the king, and not for their own mother's husband and his
male kin, against him (and his other sons, their half-brothers). Stops the king getting outnumbered by ambitious underlings, be they kin or not, maybe? (Just possibly could be interpreted as "Xtreme
fosterage", and that was an outstandingly important institution in their societies, frequently overriding paternity).
Not that this mediaeval yarn is any more justified
in its premises than similar continent-wide beliefs in a (conveniently always just-previous) droit-du-seigneur.
Ay caramba!, where's that gin got to? This stuff would put a hole in your skull so it would.
And that's net
of the possibly innumerable and productive one-night-stands both enthusiastically voluntary, and involuntary that the likes of Cúchulainn, Conchobor and other prime "alpha-males" were assigned (Deirdre, or Aiofe, etc. anyone? In Conchobar's case even, scurrilously, his own mother? and sister).
Apart from the psychopathic violence, and superb poetry, these folk were running major-league post-Urnfield swingers' clubs ...
Now it's not that the tales are in any way reflective of history as we understand it, or that it was even credible
to a mediaeval Gael. It simply had to be conceivable
. Along with singing swan-girls, or shape-shifting hags. Sort of a 3rd level of Truth, if you see what I'm havering about?
For instance, I can conceive
of a WWII bomber being found on the Moon, in a way that an Iron Age peasant could never do, but couldn't ever believe
it, and simultaneously I am a fully-paid-up creditor of the Apollo landings, which would as equally be utterly incomprehensible (I hope!) to our prehistoric Celt. In the same way, we cannot back-project the division between myth, tradition, remembrance and outright twenty-dollar lies, for the peri-historical past. Uugh need ibuprofen ...